President Luis Guillermo Solís asked Public Works and Transport Minister Carlos Villalta Villegas his resignation after various media outlets informed that Villalta’s wife had filed a legal complaint against him for domestic violence.
The alleged incident apparently occurred late on Sunday after Villalta arrived to his former home for dropping off his three children.
Villalta confirmed at a press conference at around noon that he stepped down at the president’s request.
Regarding the domestic abuse complaint, he said that he “never attacked his wife” and that he is currently amid a divorce process. He told reporters that he will not further comment on his situation “out of respect for his children.”
He said he has been considering leaving his post. “I was already considering my resignation because it was difficult for me to work at the ministry while I’m facing this legal process,” Villalta said.
President Solís told reporters at a public event later on Monday that he had requested Villalta his resignation. He said Villalta agreed that his resignation was necessary in order to have more peace of mind during the legal dispute and also to avoid damaging the government for a situation from his private life.
Solís also reported that Transport Vice Minister Guiselle Alfaro had also handed him her resignation earlier on Monday.
The president said she argued personal reasons and added that he will announce the names of the persons who will replace both MOPT officials “in the next hours.”
TV news reports early on Monday informed about the alleged domestic abuse complaint against Villalta. The incident had occurred at around 11 p.m. on Sunday.
Villalta at the press conference confirmed that he had an argument with his wife but he denied that he had hit or attempted to strangle her, as some news outlets reported throughout the day.
“My family situation is not new, it’s been going on for quite some time. The situation, however, got worse starting in May,” he said.
Villalta served as Public Works and Transport Minister since February 2, 2016, when he replaced Carlos Segnini, who resigned arguing personal reasons.
He said he believes his time in office ends with a positive balance. He also offered his help and advise to the new minister “in order to make a harmonious transition of the post.”
Villalta is the 13th minister to resign President Solís’ cabinet, whose term ends next May.